On this page:

  • General multidisciplinary databases
  • Political Science and Policy databases
  • Law
  • Security Studies
  • Regional databases
  • Special web resources

Research beyond Google

It's true that there is much of value on the web, but separating the valuable from the marginal or completely irrelevant can be time-consuming, challenging and even frustrating. If your habit is to start research with Google or Google Scholar, just remember not to stop there. 

Library e-resources (databases) help you get around the triumvirate of problems that web searching often presents: uneven quality, uncertain authority, and unmanageable numbers of search results. E-resources provide you with galaxies of information that are bounded, organized, curated by experts, and most importantly, perhaps, designed with the needs of scholars and researchers in mind. You can think of Harvard e-resources as premium online content -- most of it is not accessible to you freely from Google (or Google Scholar) and it's only available to because of your association with Harvard, which pays subscription fees on your behalf. 

E-resources are especially important as sites for uncovering the content of journal, magazine, and newspaper articles. But they'll have many other uses for you as well. Matching the right Harvard library database with your research needs becomes easier over time -- and once you understand that e-resources are always built on some principle of similarity.

A library database might contain content that is related to particular geographic region, continent, or country, for example. Or it might cover a particular academic discipline (like political science, gender studies, or history). Sometimes, format supplies the organizing principle: thus at Harvard, we have databases that are comprised solely of news, or statistical information, or filmed performances of Shakespearean plays. The depth and variety of what Harvard puts at your fingertips -- in print and online -- is breathtaking. Take advantage of as much as you can while you're here!

The e-resources we've singled out for inclusion on this page are gold standards in the fields they cover: they provide reliable, comprehensive, accurate records of the books scholars are publishing and the ideas they're debating and discussing in important and influential journals. They've been culled from the hundreds of options you have from the Databases page. Explore your options further through searching or by browsing by broad subject classifications

E-Resources: Databases for Accessing Scholarship and Working Papers

General Multidisciplinary

  • Academic Search Premier: a well-calibrated mix of scholarly journal articles, magazines and some major news publications, this database often makes an excellent launching pad for research.  For advanced and in-depth research, you may want to pair it with one or more of the subject databases listed below.

Political Science and Public Policy

  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts: provides citations and abstracts to journal literature in political science and such related fields as political theory, political sociology, international relations, economics, law, and public policy. Coverage begins in 1975.
  • CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online): designed to be "a comprehensive source for theory and research in international affairs," CIAO provides access to a broad range of scholarly materials including working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from NGOs, foundation-funded research projects, and proceedings from conferences, books, journals, and policy briefs. At least 400 working papers, 40-50 papers presented at conferences, and 10-12 complete books are added, cross-indexed, and archived annually. CIAO also has more than 160 links to international affairs centers, institutes, and resources; U.S., international, and foreign government sites; environmental studies Web pages; and news media services. Coverage is from 1991 forward.
  • Historical Abstracts: considered the leading bibliography for citations and abstracts of scholarship in history and related fields. Excludes the U.S. and Canada, as these regions are covered in a companion database, America: History and Life.
  • PAIS International (Public Affairs Information System): provides citations and abstracts of publications on the full range of political, social, and public policy issues and on any topics that are or might become the subject of legislation. More than 1,600 journals and over 8,000 book are indexed each year. Coverage dates back to 1935.


  • HeinOnline: a massive collection of digitized legal materials, organized into sub-libraries.  Among the kinds of documents HeinOnline makes available are law reviews, court cases, foreign, international, UN, and European law, FRUS (Foreign Relations of the United States), Congressional publications, and more.
  • LegalTrac: provides access to the contents of nearly 1000 legal periodicals, including academic law journals, bar association publications, and legal newspapers. Law-related articles from business and general interest periodicals are also represented. LegalTrac covers English-language publications from the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the U.K. Coverage varies by title, but generally begins about 1980.

Security Studies

  • Homeland Security Digital Library: provides easy access to U.S. policy documents, presidential directives, and national strategy documents, Specialized resources, such as dissertations, reports and position papers from universities, research institutions, think tanks and U.S. local and state agencies are included. 
  • International Relations Security Network (ISN): produced at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich), ISN aims to be the "world’s foremost open access knowledge repository in international affairs."  Materials are searchable by keyword and browsable by region and subject.  
  • Jane's Defence Magazines Library: full-text access to the following titles: Defence IndustryDefence weeklyForeign ReportInternational Defence Review, Intelligence DigestIntelligence Review, Islamic Affairs AnalystMissiles and RocketsNavy International, and Terrorism and Security Monitor. Coverage is from 1984 forward.
  • Military and Government Collection: current news pertaining to all branches of the U.S. military, this database offers a collection of periodicals, academic journals and other content. The collection provides cover-to-cover full text for more than 300 journals and periodicals. The database also includes full text for 245 pamphlets and offers indexing and abstracts for more than 400 titles.

Regional: Africa

  • Africa-Wide: this massive e-resource combines the content of some 17 separate databases focused on the continent, thus making it a single source for scholarship on all aspects of Africa and African studies from around the world. Coverage is from the 16th century forward.

Regional: Asian countries

  • Bibliography of Asian Studies: a database that draws its content from the 100 most important English language journals on East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.  Coverage is from 1971 forward.


Regional: Latin America

  • Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS): published continuously since 1935 and now produced by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, the Handbook is an essential resource for locating current and historical research and scholarship on the continent. The content is drawn from more 1300 humanities and social sciences journals, in addition to books, conference papers, and other relevant documents.
  • Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI): a major e-resource for tracking down research and scholarship on Central and South America, Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean basin, the United States-Mexico border region, and Hispanics/Latinos in the United States. From analyses of current political, economic, and social issues to unique coverage of Latin American arts and letters, HAPI Online contains complete bibliographic citations to articles, book reviews (through 2001), documents, original literary works, and other materials appearing in more than 600 key social science and humanities journals published throughout the world. The database is searchable in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Coverage extends back to 1970.
  • Latin American Periodicals Tables of Content: contains information culled from 950 periodicals published in Latin America.  Items that are not available through the Harvard library can be ordered at no cost to you through interlibrary loan. Coverage varies by title, but in most cases, begins about 1985.

Regional: Middle Eastern and Islamic countries

  • Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies (MECAS): compiles and makes searchable the published research, policy literature, and scholarly discourse on the countries and peoples of the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa. The database also contains citations to radical literature, theses and dissertations, bulletins, internet documents and other "grey" literature. Coverage extends back to 1900 for some titles.
  • Index Islamicus: produced by the Islamic Bibliography Unit at Cambridge University Library, Index Islamic provides citations and  is a bibliography of publications in European languages on all aspects of Islam and the Muslim world. Index Islamicus provides access to over 2,000 journals. It also covers conference proceedings, monographs, multi-authored works, and book reviews.
  • Rambi: Index of Articles on Jewish Studies: a database on all aspects of Jewish studies, compiled from thousands of periodicals and from collections of articles - in Hebrew, Yiddish, and European languages- mainly from the holdings of the Jewish National and University Library, a world center for research on the Jewish people and Eretz Israel. Coverage is from 1966 forward.


Regional: Russia, CIS, and slavic countries

  • ABSEES (American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies): produced by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, ABSEES is a major resource for current and recent scholarship on  East-Central Europe and the former Soviet Union and on a variety of subjects.  Coverage varies by title but generally, dates back to 1989.
  • Russian Academy of Sciences Bibliographies: covers material in the humanities and social sciences published in the Commonwealth of Independent States, in Eastern European countries, and elsewhere, including periodicals, books, and manuscripts. Coverage is from 1980 forward.

Special web resources


  • HuriSearch (Human Rights Search Engine): A free web resource produced under the auspices of HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Center, a global network of human rights organizations, established in 1982.  HuriSearch enables one-stop searching of the contents of more than 5000 human rights websites.


  • IGO/NGO Custom Search Engine: produced collaboratively by librarians working at several universities, these two custom Google search engines allow you canvass information that might otherwise be difficult to turn up. Many of these documents are widely distributed on the web but not necessarily included in standard databases of published scholarly research.


    The IGO Search includes material from the World Bank, UN Development Program (UNDP), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Union, Organization of American States, the Asian Development Bank and many others.


    The NGO Search indexes local, regional and international NGOs from sources as diverse as AARP, Earth Watch Institute, International Crisis Group, OXFAM, the World Agricultural Forum. Sites were chosen based on their consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO).

  • PROL (Political Research Online)a collaborative project led by the American Political Science Association and a consortium of political science and related associations, PROL is a pre-print server that serves as the common resource for all emerging scholarship in political science.  Often, it is the place to access (free of charge) full-text conference papers which are referenced in Harvard e-resources but not yet published. 
  • SSRN (Social Science Research Network): an open access repository of new scholarship in accounting, economics, finance, information systems, legal scholarship, management, marketing, negotiations and social insurance. Much of it is in pre-print form (conference papers and yet unpublished studies).  National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) papers are also deposited here.